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October 25, 2011


THE Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Tayabas, Quezon, one of the country’s heritage churches, with about 400 years of history, is now the first old church in the Philippines to have its facade lighted using solar energy.

The church, which is in the list of the country’s National Cultural Treasures, has been installed with lights, photovoltaic power panels and other devices which harness the energy of the sun for the lighting of the church. This is more sustainable than the lighting system currently used to light the church. The project is a part of the study funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) entitled “Solar Power and Historic Buildings: A Case Study on Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BiPV) for the Facade Lighting of Old Churches” by Rosalie Flores-Bernardo, an architect at the Office of the Campus Architect of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, a graduate student majoring in architectural science at the UP College of Architecture.

The study, conducted during the early to middle part of 2011, aims to design, install and evaluate the retrofitting an old church with photovoltaic cells for lighting the facade at night. It also aims to determine the end-user reception with the integration of this new technology.

This is in line with the thrust of the premiere government agency for culture and the arts and the nation in promoting and popularizing the historical and cultural heritage and resources of the country. Facade lighting can facilitate the appreciation and the awareness of the local and tourist population regarding the beauty of a heritage structure beyond day light hours.    

“Night lighting provides a majestic face that creates a different dimension to the building envelope,” says Flores-Bernardo. “Sadly, given our rising energy production cost, night lighting is an indulgence.”

But with BiPV, she continues, “We can revolutionize the way we view our historic sites.”

“Photovoltaic power panels are widely known as the most promising source of renewable energy due to its production and availability,” she informs.

PV devices generate energy from sunlight silently, with little or no maintenance, no pollution and no significant depletion of material resources.

“BiPV is theoretically advantageous because we are located near the equator, and daylight hours are long,” she adds.

Aside from highlighting the beauty of the heritage structure, BiPV also helps in lessening its environmental impact. “The trend of the future is green architecture,” says Flores-Bernardo.

The Minor Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Tayabas, Quezon, was chosen as the pilot case study because of its historical significance. The oldest in the Diocese of Lucena and one of the most beautiful in the country, the church started out as a structure made of indigenous materials in 1585. In 1600, a church of bricks was built but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1743. A bigger structure was built a few years later and was expanded in 1856, adding the transept and copula. On October, 18, 1988, the title of minor basilica was conferred by Pope John Paul II. (Tayabas Through the Centuries; 1987)

The new lighting will make the facade of the church more dramatic and will use “clean energy that will harmonize with the tranquility of the town,” comments Flores-Bernardo.

For more details, contact Rene Napeñas, head of the NCCA Public Affairs and Information Office at 527-5529 or 0927-5582656. E-mail us at \n